Last weekend I visited a zoo with a friend. Whilst there, we debated whether or not zoos were a good thing. When I was little, I loved going to the zoo. Now, aged 20, I still enjoy visiting them. However, I am aware that there are lots of people who don't support these establishments.
Animal welfare is a growing concern in today's society. There are many people who believe that zoos are unethical. They argue that it is cruel to remove animals from their natural habitat and keep them in cages for the public to look at. An animal kept in a zoo will lead a different life to an animal that lives in the wild, for example animals in zoos don't have to hunt for food. Furthermore, some animals become unhappy in zoos because there isn't enough space. Zoos feature animals from places all over the world and animals must therefore adjust to different climates and seasons, depending on the location of the zoo in relation to where the animal comes from.
On the other hand, a trip to the zoo can be an educational experience. When students learn about endangered species and are able to see them in a zoo, they are more likely to support projects designed to save these animals from extinction. Zoos are involved in many conservation projects: supporting zoos provides essential funding for these projects. Due to threats such as poaching, there are arguably many species which would be extinct if they weren't kept in zoos. In addition, many zoos attempt to replicate an animal's natural habitat: a range of materials is used to create a space that is similar to what would be found in the wild. Lots of toys are usually put in exhibits to prevent animals from getting bored. Animals that live in tropical countries - especially reptiles - are typically housed indoors in warm, heated tanks which are kept at a temperature similar to that of their natural habitat.
Every zoo has a slightly different approach to animal care and welfare, but overall I think zoos are a good thing. Seeing animals in their natural habitat isn't always possible and I think zoos offer a good alternative. A trip to the zoo is both educational and fun - I'll definitely continue to visit zoos!
What do you think about zoos? If you want to read more about zoos have a look at this reading practice exercise.